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Tuna Bites ****1/2,
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This review is from: Steady As She Goes (Audio CD)
Twenty years on from their last release, and with Jorma Kaukonen having recently turned 70 it's a fair bet that not too many people will have been expecting a new album from Hot Tuna. And even fewer that it would actually turn out to be this good.
Always more interesting than the Airplane from which they were originally launched, Kaukonen and long-time cohort Jack Casady serve up a tasty musical feast that draws liberally from both their acoustic and electric incarnations. Opener "Angel of Darkness" sounds like something they might have borrowed from The Black Crowes, whilst Kaukonen's longstanding obsession with the Reverend Gary Davis is still alive and well, "Children of Zion" and "Mama Let Me Lay It On You" the latest spirited covers.
The rock 'n' rolling "If This Is Love" raises a smile with the protagonist musing "If this is love / I want my money back / I wanna see the man in charge / I want an honourable discharge". Things quieten down somewhat with the poignant "Second Chances", "Smokerise Journey" and "Things That Might Have Been" whilst the infectious toe-tapping acoustic instrumental "Vicksburg Stomp" closes the proceedings in fine style.
Much more polished and "produced" (courtesy of Larry Campbell) than of old, some fans might find it a little too slick (no pun intended!) for their taste but when the songs and the performances are this good, who cares?